“Oh, if it be to choose and call thee mine, love, thou art every day my Valentine!”

Before Valentine’s Day, we’d spend one art class making our valentine boxes out of shoe boxes brought from home. We’d use crayons and construction paper and, for those of us lacking any creative talent, our imaginations. Boxes were covered in paper then decorated with red hearts and a few flowers. We’d make slits in the tops of the boxes so all the valentines we expected would fit inside. In those days, the valentines were small, made from light cardboard, and they had silly sayings on the front. The backs were empty so we could sign our names. They even came with envelopes we addressed with our classmates’ names. My mother would buy a few boxes of the valentines, and we’d sit at the kitchen table and write them out then put them in the box to carry them to school. They never went into the school bag. They were too precious. The boxes were carried by hand with great reverence.

During the day we  had to keep the boxes under our desks. That was the worst as the day went so slowly, and we could see each others’ boxes just sitting there while we wasted our time on arithmetic and English and whatever else was forced into our heads. I doubt we learned anything. We were clock watching, just waiting and biding our time until the party.

All of us brought something for the party: sugar cookies in the shapes of hearts, cupcakes with red frosting or bags of conversation hearts which said Be Mine or True Love or I’m Yours. None of us ever believed the sentiments. We just ate the candy.

The party was always the last part of the day. Away went the books and on our desks came the boxes. We’d take out our valentines and students, called by rows, would walk around and put an envelope in someone’s box. Sitting at my desk, I’d hold my breath hoping I’d get a valentine or two or several.

Once everyone was finished, the party began in earnest. We’d get to chat and eat and open our valentines. I remember hoping for one from my latest crush and being thrilled when I got it. When school ended, we’d walk home talking the whole way about the party and showing off our valentines.

We carried our boxes home with even more reverence than we had carried them that morning. The valentines inside were special.

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12 Comments on ““Oh, if it be to choose and call thee mine, love, thou art every day my Valentine!””

  1. olof1 Says:

    I have nothing to share in this subject, Valentines has never been especially big here. They might sell more chocolate and a couple of more roses but that’s it. But Every year the strores do try to make something of it 🙂

    One school did try to start something like You described but so many parents got angry because those already bullied felt even more so when they didn’t get a card. So I doubt anyone tries that again.

    It snow like mad here now and I don’t like it at all.

    Happy Valetine 🙂
    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      It’s a day to think of someone. I got flowers from my friend, and they are beautiful especially this time of year!

      Now every kid gives every kid a valentine so noone feels that way anymore. That’s a good idea: giving no hurt feelings.

      I’m with you in not liking the snow!

  2. Hedley Says:

    Linda Cannon
    When I was a very young Hedley, and sang in the Church Choir at St Mary and St Nicholas Church in Leatherhead, (easily found on line and will be on the route of the Olympic Road races this summer) I had a very large crush on Ms Linda Cannon
    Valentines Day cards were given but were to be unsigned so that the lucky recipient could guess who sent it. Linda’s was put in her choir locker and nothing….. 🙂
    God bless you Linda wherever you are

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      I bet she was just too embarassed to mention it to you. She figured she’d turn red and stammer, and that would not be good for a young lady!

      The blessing is a good one!

  3. Zoey & Me Says:

    I enjoyed those Valentine’s Day at school. Pretty much as you described it. We had older students carry in boxes of free ice cream bars or what was known as a creamsicle. I loved both and could never decide. But I will admit we had some pushy, pushy little girls back then who argued when one girl gave out a Valentine to a boy she didn’t want anyone else to give him one. How do teachers put up with that? Somehow we all arrived home safely.

    • katry Says:

      Z&Me,
      I loved creamsicles too with their orange flavor. Every now and then I roder a creamsicle drink. They taste exactly the same as the bars did.

      The nuns weren’t have abided pushiness, and we all knew it so no one was pushy. We only did this in the younger grades so girl-boy stuff was just puppy love or even less.

  4. Bob Says:

    What you experienced in elementary school must have been the universal celebration of Valentine’s Day in all the schools both public and private. I assume that if you majored in elementary education in College they must have had a required class on how to make decorated boxes for Valentine’s Day and other holidays. After the Supreme Court decision banning prayer in public schools the other holidays portion of the course would have been modified to leave out Christmas and Easter projects.

    There was a major lawsuit against a local district because they banned the kids from giving each other candy canes during Christmas. I never equated candy canes with any religious observance of Christmas. I thought that they were included with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

    In elementary school my box would always be filled with those cheap kid valentine’s from the girls in the class. When we all got to high school the valentine’s stopped coming. I always wondered if the quarterback on the varsity football team received all of them.

    • katry Says:

      Bob,
      I was a secondary school teacher so I missed that class.Too bad I did as I could have used the help. Crepe paper was the best for hiding the less artistic endeavors so I had a bit of crepe around mine.

      Everthing holiday has symbols and many of them have nothing to do with religion. I don’t think trees or stockings or even Santa are part of the religious experience of Christmas. The same with easter baskets and valentines.

      By high school I figure it was couples giving each other valentines. The days of all of us getting some was over.

  5. Hedley Says:

    I just wanted to comment very briefly on the passing yesterday of Dory Previn. Her work was filled with challenge and humor and my personal favorite remains “Mythical Kings and Iguanas”. And no, she didnt like Mia Farrow very much
    Gone at the age of 86

    • katry Says:

      Thank you, my dear Hedley

      I do not post on Wednesday’s as you know, but I will post her music tomorrow. She has been on Coffee before, but it with sadness I post her again.

  6. Carl Says:

    I remember like it was yesterday. We always seemed to get the bulk cards that were just perforated and we’d have to pull them apart, trying not to rip them. There was always one sheet with ‘furry’ on them and they were special. (at least that how I remember it). What a wonderful time, then.

    We didn’t get much time for exchanging cards, usually the last few minutes of the day, and it was total chaos. And then the teasing on the walk home. First a little baiting by telling a friend how nice a card I got from their heart throb and then the all out teasing! It was such fun. And if there was snow, which in northern MA, there usually was, the biggest snowball fight ever!

    • katry Says:

      Carl,
      Some were special and those I saved for my latest crush. I remember putting that one to the side and taking my time writing out his name and mone on the back.

      My mother bought packages which were already apart which was a good thing as I still don’t separate perforations well; I’m not patient enough.

      I still remember that walk home comparing with my friends who gave each of us valentines. Our teasing never reached snowball stage but it was just as fun.

      I’d get home and go through them all again.

      I’d get home and go throught them al


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